Improved margins and risk management tools help the world's biggest oilseed processor Bunge more than double its profit for the third quarter, despite a knock back from soybean trade in China.
The White Plains, New York-based business that bakery ingredients and functional cooking fats to food processors posted a 104 per cent increase in net income to $182 million (€142.8 million) for the third quarter to 30 September 2004, rising from $89 million for the same period in 2003.
"Bunge's year-to-date results were above expectations, despite unprecedented volatility in agribusiness markets and a disruption in soybean trade with China," commented Bunge's CEO Alberto Weisser on Thursday.
An increase in soybean supplies on the back of a "large North American soybean harvest" contributed to the third quarter gains for the oilseed firm that has seen soy prices peak at 15 year highs in the past twelve months.
But while ingredients suppliers using soy as a raw material have seen margins, and profits, squeezed by the high soybean prices, previous results from Bunge, notably in the first quarter, suggested that risk management helped the spread between the price for buying the soybeans and the price at which the derived products of soybean meal and oil were sold on.
"Bunge's soy crush profitability is not determined by whether soybean prices are high or low," said the CEO in April this year.
The US firm, principally involved in agribusiness, fertiliser and food products, reported that edible oil sales benefited from higher sales volumes and margins in Hungary and Poland. "This was offset in part by margin pressure in other regions as a result of higher raw material prices," said the firm this week.
The edible oils segment saw sales rising by a hefty 30 per cent from $799 million to $978 million, suggesting broader margins are now possible as the commodity prices return to 'average historical levels'.
Looking ahead to the rest of the year Weisser predicts "positive indicators for 2005" including expected relief in commodity prices should stimulate demand, an increase in vegetable oil demand from biodiesel needs, and 'ample supply' for soybeans slated to arrive from South America.